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FDA authorizes saliva-based coronavirus test funded by NBA

The NBA has been the gold standard for sports bubbles and here’s another reason why.

On Saturday, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided to issue an “emergency authorization” which will allow the public use of a new saliva-based test for the coronavirus that was developed at Yale University and is being funded by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

The test is called SalivaDirect and is intended for widespread public use as a cheaper–yet just as accurate–means of determining who has tested positive for COVID-19. Instead of the deep, uncomfortable nasal swabs currently being used inside the NBA’s Orlando Bubble, the saliva-based test would be far less invasive. Results could come back in a few hours, and assuredly within 24 hours, according to Lowe’s article.

The Yale test funded by the league and players’ union is simple enough to be used by labs everywhere provided they go through required accreditation processes, said Nathan Grubaugh, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Yale and one of two senior authors, along with Anne Wyllie, an associate research scientist in epidemiology, behind the saliva studies. Consumers dribble saliva into a narrow tube. Depending on the proximity of the lab, consumers could get results back within a few hours — and definitely within 24 hours, Grubaugh said.

The Yale test removes one cumbersome and expensive step — the extraction of RNA from samples — that is a core part of nasal swab tests and the Rutgers test. Scientists warned early in the pandemic about supply chain bottlenecks and shortages in equipment required to extract RNA. [ESPN]

Yale’s test will be cheaper and return faster results than the test created at Rutgers University, according to Lowe. Rutgers developed the leading coronavirus saliva test that costs consumers up to $170. The Yale test could cost consumers as much as $20, according to experts.

Inarguably the most important step to ensuring a safe sports environment during a pandemic has been the necessity for rapid-testing. Not only would a cheaper and easy to use test have important implications on the continuation of sports this year, but it could also be the determining factor in what helps sports return to some sense of normalcy beginning in 2021.

The NBA and the Player’s Association reportedly do not plan on taking any of the royalties made off of the tests and have contributed over $500,000 to the funding. Yale and the NBA also are in talks about acquiring robotic technology that will speed up the testing process and allow for pools of participants to be tested at the same time.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

3 Comments for FDA authorizes saliva-based coronavirus test funded by NBA



  1. UKinIN
    4:23 pm August 16, 2020 Permalink

    Is this test also only 70% accurate? Honest question. Not a criticism.



  2. ScoggDog
    7:57 pm August 16, 2020 Permalink

    So you’ll be told to lick a paper – and if it turns from red to blue – they’ll either tell you to go home or lock you up.

    Yay. Friggin’ yay.

    You kids really, really need to open a history book. Something from 1930s Europe.



  3. RealCatsFan
    8:47 pm August 16, 2020 Permalink

    Seems like I read about this a couple months ago. IMO, this test along with the plasma antibody therapy needs to be fast tracked.